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President's Message

february 2021 

American Heart Month

Dear Maryland ACC Colleagues,

February is American Heart Month, a time when we usually head to Annapolis with our colleagues from the American Heart Association to advocate for legislation which furthers the ACC’s mission to “transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health.” This usually includes issues that advance public health (reducing tobacco consumption, increasing access to AEDs) and improve access to cardiovascular care (the RCIS bill we helped pass in 2019).

The Covid-19 pandemic has radically changed how advocacy looks in the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly. Committee meetings are held virtually and the opportunity to present live testimony is limited. But we will advocate for issues important to our patient and our members nonetheless.

This year, our top issue is telehealth parity – both parity with in-person visits and parity between video and audio-only telehealth visits. As we all know, telehealth was a lifeline during the initial spring surge, allowing us to maintain connection with our patients and to make important decisions to maintain and improve their cardiovascular health. The desire of some patients to maintain distance has led them to continue to request telehealth visits regardless of the degree of community spread or positivity rate. Indeed, some patients prefer telehealth for some visits to reduce travel time and cost, as well as inconvenience, particularly patients who rely on family members or neighbors for transport.

Importantly, not all patients have access to the digital bandwidth and/or computer equipment to allow a secure and stable video connection during a telehealth visit. I was surprised how common this problem is, and had numerous telehealth visits disrupted by connectivity issues, forcing a pivot to audio-only connection. We also know that lack of bandwidth and computer equipment disproportionately affects minority communities, the elderly, and low-income households.

Unfortunately, reimbursement policy for telehealth enacted during the pandemic have sunset provisions, and some private insurers have not reimbursed telehealth fairly, despite advocacy from Maryland ACC members. Fortunately, Maryland legislators have proposed a bill (HB 0123/ SB 0003, the Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021) which would maintain and expand telehealth parity with in-person office visits and requires parity between video and audio-only telehealth through June 30, 2025 for both public and private health insurers. This is important legislation that will help outpatient practices maintain financial viability and, most importantly, allow patients to continue to receive medical care regardless of the state of the pandemic, weather, or ability to obtain transportation.

Maryland ACC will advocate strongly for this legislation, with letters to the committees hearing the bill and, at the right time, direct advocacy to legislators urging its passage. Stay tuned and look for future Action Alerts when needed to do your part. In addition, please Wear Red on February 5 to support aware of heart disease in women. CV disease is still the number one cause of death in women and the top cause of morbidity and mortality in pregnancy.

On the education front, our Women in Cardiology chair, Dr. Catherine Bennet, hosted a very interesting evening webinar on January 13 covering work-life balance and molding one’s professional environment. On February 4 at 6PM, the CV Team section will host the 3rd evening in its Pillars of Cardiology Virtual Learning Series entitled “Interventional: Aortic stenosis: TAVR Assessment and Treatment/Heart Team approach.” You can register for this CEU event here.

I hope that nearly everyone has received at least their first Covid-19 vaccination at this point. I had my second last week and am pleased to report almost no side effects. I have been advocating vaccination to all my clinic patients for the past month. I also had the opportunity to help vaccinate colleagues – nearly 100 over 2 days. A number of our colleagues have joined in this effort, including immediate past CV Team Liaison, Jae Patton, CRNP, AACC. Thank you, Jae, and everyone who is helping with this vital effort!

                

As always, please send MDACC leadership and staff your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions to president@marylandacc.org.

Joseph E. Marine, MD, FACC

Urge state legislators to SUPPORT the Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021

Check your inbox for a personalized action alert so that you may contact your legislators. If you prefer to call, here is the message. Find your legislators here.

CVTeam Pillars of Cardiology
Virtual Learning Series

Join the CVTeam as we explore the latest therapeutics and diagnostic techniques in the essential areas of cardiology: Heart Failure, EP, Interventional and Prevention.  Additional information and complimentary registration are here.


ACC Membership Renewal

The ACC and Chapter membership renewal deadline is just around the corner on December 10th. This year, the greater ACC community has rallied together to face unprecedented challenges to our practices and our communities. 

Be sure your voice is at the table in 2021. Our membership prices are the same. Additionally, if you’re unable to pay your full renewal amount—contact us. Your membership is worth more than a single year’s dues payment, and we’re happy to work with you on alternate payment options for 2021.

Additionally, at the Chapter level, we’ve been hard at work providing you with localized opportunities for involvement, education and networking—plus providing you with representation to lawmakers and decision makers at the local and state levels.

Keep ACC as your cardiovascular home as together we transform CV care and improve heart health.

Renew online or by calling ACC Member Care at 202-375-6000, ext. 5603.

Coronavirus and Your Heart: Don't Ignore Heart Symptoms

ACC CardioSmart recently published the infographic below to emphasize the importance of maintaining heart health through the epidemic. Click here for additional information.

Heart Health during COVID-19 path

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Maryland Chapter, American College of Cardiology
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